My name is Lee and I am not a good multitasker (***crowd yells Hi Lee**). For some reason I thought of this concept this week as I was finishing construction documents on two projects and working on another set for a third project. Of course I had to stop what I was doing in order to think about this.
I don’t think architects can be or should be multitaskers. This current buzz word concept has developed in recent years as a virtue making us believe that somehow we are cheating the proverbial 24 hour clock and getting more done in a given day than the average person can do. It’s as if we can theoretically clone ourselves without the mess of another person showing up who looks exactly like us. (see Michael Keaton in Multiplicity). As an architect I am called to do an endless series of tasks that require some degree of concentration; some a great deal of concentration.
As I find myself attempting to do this, all that really happens is I start one task and before its complete start another. I may have fooled myself into thinking I’m doing concurrent tasks, but that’s not the end result. I can barely chew gum and walk. In order to be efficient, one must start a task and finish it while praying a co-worker doesn’t come by to talk about the game last night or hope a client doesn’t call to check on their project. Despite my love for my work, many days require exactly that…work. Put your head down and get it done.
I suppose some might be smart enough to actually do more than one task simultaneously, but I have to wonder the quality of their efforts. I’d like to think I do one thing at a time, do it very well, and move along. Wouldn’t you hate to have a major problem with your house or office simply because I was texting someone, playing air guitar secretly in my office and drinking coffee while working on a complex task of your project?
Paying attention to more than one thing at a time is almost impossible to do, especially for a man. Watch this video by National Geographic on paying attention. I would have been robbed myself. If you watch the entire show online you’ll see them address the issue of multi-tasking. There may be a quantitative benefit to it, but not a qualitative benefit in my observation.
We’re always in such a big hurry in this world, especially in this country. Sometimes we need to slow down, do our thing really well and celebrate quality. Now if you’re reading this on your phone, while eating your lunch walking around outside, look up…you’re about to miss something very interesting or just trip over something.
photo is from stuant63’s photostream on Flickr (used under the Creative Common License)